Many young people have died after getting into difficulties at Saltford Weir (also known as Saltford Lock), and due to the tragic history of this area people are strongly advised not to swim in the River Avon in Saltford. The water at Saltford Weir has strong undercurrents, which have been known to drag and keep a person under the surface, resulting in head and spinal injuries from hidden objects such as rocks and trees.
Aaron Burgess, age 14, tragically died at this location. On hearing of a child subsequently becoming unwell after swimming in the river at Saltford, Aaron’s mother – Lucy Perrett – shared the following message:
“I have tears in my eyes as I am typing this, please, please, please kids stay out of that river please, this is coming from a mum whose child went in there six years ago and he never came back home…the place is very, very dangerous there is an undercurrent in there you cannot see that pulls you down and I am so sad to hear that people are still using it to swim in. Please listen to me. You have a choice to keep safe or put yourself in danger. As Aaron’s mum I beg you to listen to me, please do not swim there. I can never see my son again after he went in there and I miss him every day. Please do not go in that place as I would never want any parent or child or family to go through what we went through. Please share and keep everyone’s kids safe.”
Aaron’s father, Jay Burgess, said in the days following his son’s death:
“I’m completely devastated by what’s happened and I will miss him so terribly. I can only hope now that other young people realise the dangers of swimming near weirs and in rivers”.
The Canal and River Trust advise the public not to swim in rivers and canals unless part of an organised event. Tony Stammers, head of Health and Safety at the trust, stated following Aaron’s death:
“We have carried out an investigation into the safety precautions in place at Saltford lock (weir) and have made the decision to install ‘no swimming’ signs and a life ring at the site. We hope that together with the railings already in place on the lock island, they further help to deter people from swimming in this area. The water is often very cold, even on the warmest of days, which can cause cramps. There can also be very strong currents and obstructions under the water which can be hazardous to even the strongest of swimmers.”
The Royal Lifesaving Society has a webpage about the devastating impact of drowning on friends and family.
Over the decades many lives have tragically been lost at the River Avon in Saltford.
Considering the high number of historic drownings as well as those that have occurred in more recent years, Saltford Parish Council urges safety awareness at all times when using or visiting the river in Saltford.
Please see our water safety advice and information page.